Chapter 3
Muslims Invade India

“My principal object in coming to Hindustan… has been to accomplish two things. The first was to war with the infidels, the enemies of the Mohammadan religion; and by this religious warfare to acquire some claim to reward in the life to come. The other was… that the army of Islam might gain something by plundering the wealth and valuables of the infidels: plunder in war is as lawful as their mothers’ milk to Musalmans who war for their faith.”

Amir Timur

While studying the legacy of Muslim rule in India, it has to be constantly borne in mind that the objectives of all Muslim invaders and rulers were the same as those mentioned above. Timur or Tamerlane himself defines them candidly and bluntly while others do so through their chroniclers.

After its birth in Arabia, Islam spread as a conquering creed both in west and east with amazing rapidity. In the north and west of Arabia Muslim conquest was swift. The Byzantine provinces of Palestine and Syria were conquered by the newly converted Arabs after a campaign of six months in C.E. 636-37. Next came the turn of the Sassanid empire of Persia which included Iraq, Iran and Khurasan. The Persians were defeated decisively in 637 and their empire was so overrun in the next few years that by 643 the boundaries of the Caliphate touched the frontiers of India. In the west the Byzantine province of Egypt had fallen in 640-641. and territories of Inner Mongolia, Bukhara, Tashkand and Samarqand were annexed by 650. The Arab armies marched over North Africa and crossed into Spain in C.E. 709. Thus within a span of about seventy years (637-709) the Arabs achieved astounding success in their conquests. Still more astounding was the fact that the people of these conquered lands were quickly converted to Islam and their language and culture Arabicised.

Naturally India, known to early Arabs as Hind va Sind, too could not escape Muslim expansionist designs, and they sent their armies into India both by land and sea. They proceeded along the then known (trade) routes - 1. from Kufa and Baghadad, via Basra and Hormuz to Chaul on India's west coast; 2. from West Persian towns, via Hormuz to Debal in Sind; and 3. through the land route of northern Khurasan to Kabul via Bamian. But progress of Muslim arms and religion in India was slow, very slow. For, the declarations of objectives of Muslim invaders had not taken into account the potentialities of Indians’ stiff and latent resistance. Caliph Umar (634-44 C.E.) had sent an expedition in 636-37 to pillage Thana on the coast of Maharashtra during the reign of the great Hindu monarch Pulakesin II. This was followed by expeditions to Bharuch (Broach) in Gujarat and the gulf of Debal in Sind. These were repulsed and Mughairah, the leader of the latter expedition, was defeated and killed. Umar thought of sending another army by land against Makran which at that time was part of the kingdom of Sind but was dissuaded by the governor of Iraq from doing so. The next Caliph Usman (644-656) too followed the same advice and refrained from embarking on any venture on Sind. The fourth Caliph, Ali, sent an expedition by land in 660 but the leader of the expedition and most of his troops were slain in the hilly terrain of Kikanan (42 H./662 C.E.). Thus the four ‘pious’ Caliphs of Islam died without hearing of the conquest of Sind and Hind.

The reason why the Arabs were keen on penetrating into Sind and always bracketed it with Hind, was that Sind was then a big ‘country’ - as big as Hind in their eyes. According to the authors of Chachnama and Tuhfatul Kiram, the dominion of Sind extended on the east to the boundary of Kashmir and Kanauj, on the west to Makran, on the south to the coast of the sea and Debal, and on the north to Kandhar, Seistan and the mountains of Kuzdan and Kikanan.1 It thus included Punjab and Baluchistan, parts of North-West Frontier Province and parts of Rajasthan. Muawiyah, the succeeding Caliph (661-80), sent as many as six expeditions by land to Sind. All of them were repulsed with great slaughter except the last one which succeeded in occupying Makran in 680. Thereafter, for twenty-eight years, the Arabs did not dare to send another army against Sind. Even Makran remained independent with varying degrees of freedom commensurate with the intensity of resistance so that as late as 1290 Marco Polo speaks of the eastern part of Makran as part of Hind, and as “the last Kingdom of India as you go towards the west and northwest”.2 The stubborn and successful opposition of Makran to the invaders was simply remarkable.

Meanwhile the Arabs had started attacking Hind from the north-west.  Emboldened by their success in annexing Khurasan in 643 C.E., the first Arab army penetrated deep into Zabul by way of Seistan which at that time was part of India, territorially as well as culturally. After a prolonged and grim struggle the invader was defeated and driven out. But in a subsequent attack, the Arab general Abdul Rahman was able to conquer Zabul and levy tribute from Kabul (653 C.E.). Kabul paid the tribute but reluctantly and irregularly. To ensure its regular payment another Arab general Yazid bin Ziyad attempted retribution in 683. But he was killed and his army put to flight with great slaughter. The war against Kabul was renewed in 695, but as it became prolonged it bore no fruitful results. Some attempts to force the Hindu king of Kabul into submission were made in the reign of Caliph Al-Mansur (745-775 C.E.), but they met only with partial success and the Ghaznavid Turks found the Hindus ruling over Kabul in 986 C.E.

The First Invasion

In the south, attempts to subjugate Sind continued through land and sea. And in 712 a full-fledged invasion was launched after prolonged negotiations. The genesis of war was this. The king of Ceylon had sent to Hajjaj bin Yusuf Sakifi, the governor of the eastern provinces of the Caliphate, eight vessels filled with presents, Abyssinian slaves, pilgrims, and the orphan daughters of some Muslim merchants who had died in his dominions. These ships were attacked and plundered by pirates off the coast of Sind. Hajjaj demanded reparations from Dahir, the king of Sind, but the latter expressed his inability to control the pirates or punish them. At this Hajjaj sent two expeditions against Debal (708 C.E.), the first under Ubaidulla and the other under Budail. Both were repulsed, their armies were routed and commanders killed. Deeply affected by these failures, Hajjaj fitted out a third and grandiose expedition. Astrological prediction and close relationship prompted him to confer the command of the campaign on his seventeen year old nephew and son-in-law Imaduddin Muhammad bin Qasim.

It was the heyday of Arab power. Wherever Muslim armies went they earned success and collected spoils. “The conquest of Sind took place at the very time in which, at the opposite extremes of the known world, the Muhammadan armies were subjugating Spain, and pressing on the southern frontier of France, while they were adding Khwarizm to their already mighty empire.”3

Under the auspices of Hajjaj, who, though nominally governor only of Iraq, was in fact ruler over all the countries which constituted the former Persian empire, the spirit of more extended conquest arose. By his orders, one army under “Kutaiba penetrated… to Kashgar, at which place Chinese ambassadors entered into a compact with the invaders. Another army… operated against the king of Kabul, and a third (under Muhammad bin Qasim) advanced towards the lower course of the Indus through Mekran.”4 The reigning Ummayad Caliph Walid I (86-96 H./705-715 C.E.) was a powerful prince under whom the Khilafat attained the greatest extent of dominion to which it ever reached. But because of earlier failures of Ubaidulla and Budail, he was skeptical about the outcome of the venture. He dreaded the distance, the cost, and the loss of Muhammadan lives.5 But when Hajjaj, an imperialist to the core, promised to repay the Caliph the expenses of the enterprise, he obtained permission for the campaign. That is how Muhammad bin Qasim came to invade Sind. The aims of the campaign were three: 1. Spreading the religion of Islam in Sind, 2. Conquest of Sind and extension of the territory of Islam, and 3. Acquisition of maximum wealth for use by Hajjaj and payment to the Caliph.6

The knowledge of Hajjaj and Muhammad bin Qasim about Sind and Hind was naturally not extensive. It was confined to what the sea-and-land traders had told about the people and wealth of what was known to them as .Kabul va Zabul and Hind va Sind. About India’s history, its hoary civilisation, its high philosophy, its deep and abiding faith in spiritualism and non-violence, they knew but little. One thing they knew was that it was inhabited by infidels and idol-worshippers. And they knew their religious duty towards such unbelievers. Instruction and inspiration about this duty came to them from three sources - The Quran, the Hadis and the personal exploits of the Prophet. Every Muslim, whether educated or illiterate knew something about the Quran and the Hadis. The learned or the Ulama amongst them usually learnt the Quran by heart and informed their conquerors and kings about its teachings and injunctions. The Prophet’s deeds, even the most trivial ones, too were constantly narrated with reverence. The one supreme duty the Quran taught them was to fight the infidels with all their strength, convert them to Islam and spread the faith by destroying their idols and shrines.

In Surah (Chapter) 2, ayat (injunction) 193, the Quran says, “Fight against them (the mushriks) until idolatry is no more, and Allah’s religion reigns supreme.” The command is repeated in Surah 8, ayat 39. In Surah 69, ayats 3037 it is ordained: “Lay hold of him and bind him. Bum him in the fire of hell.” And again: “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly” (47.14-15). “Cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, maim them in every limb” (8:12). Such commands, exhortations and injunctions are repeatedly mentioned in Islamic scriptures. The main medium through which these injunctions were to be carried out was the holy Jihad. The Jihad or holy war is a multi-dimensional concept. It means fighting for the sake of Allah, for the cause of Islam, for converting people to the ‘true faith’ and for destroying their temples. Iconoclasm and razing other people’s temples is central to Islam; it derives its justification from the Quranic revelations and the Prophet’s Sunnah or practice. Muhammad had himself destroyed temples in Arabia and so set an example for his followers. In return the mujahid (or fighter of Jihad) is promised handsome reward in this world as well as in the world to come. Without Jihad there is no Islam. Jihad is a religious duty of every Muslim. It inspired Muslim invaders and rulers to do deeds of valour, of horror and of terror. Their chroniclers wrote about the achievements of the heroes of Islam with zeal and glee, often in the very language they had learnt from their scriptures.

Inspired by such belligerent injunctions, Muhammad bin Qasim (and later on other invaders) started on the Indian expedition with a large force. On the way the governor of Makran, Muhammad Harun, supplied reinforcements and five catapults. His artillery which included a great ballista known as ‘the Bride’, and was worked by five hundred men, had been sent by sea to meet him at Debal.7 Situated on the sea-coast the city of Debal was so called because of its Deval or temple. It contained a citadel-temple with stone walls as high as forty yards and a dome of equal height. Qasim arrived at Debal in late 711 or early 712 C.E. with an army of at least twenty thousand horse and footmen.8 Add to this the Jat and Med mercenaries he enlisted under his banner in India.9

A glance at the demographic composition of Sind at this time would help in appraising the response of the Sindhians to Muhammad’s invasion. At the lower rung of the social order were Jats and Meds. Physically strong and thoroughly uneducated they flocked under the standard of the foreigner in large numbers in the hope of material gain. They also supplied Muhammad with information of the countryside he had come to invade.10 The majority of the Sindhi population was Buddhist (Samanis of chronicles), totally averse to fighting. Their religion taught them to avoid bloodshed and they were inclined to make submission to the invader even without a show of resistance. Then there were tribal people, like Sammas, to whom any king was as good as any other. They welcomed Muhammad Qasim “with frolicks and merriment”.11 Thus the bulk of population was more or less indifferent to the invasion. In such a situation it were only Raja Dahir of Sind, his Kshatriya soldiers and Brahman priests of the temples who were called upon to defend their cities and shrines, citadels and the countryside. This is the Muslim version and has to be accepted with caution.

When Muhammad began the invasion of Debal, Raja Dahir was staying in his capital Alor about 500 kms. away. Dabal was in the charge of a governor with a garrison of four to six thousand Rajput soldiers and a few thousand Brahmans, and therefore Raja Dahir did not march to its defence immediately. All this while, the young invader was keeping in close contact with Hajjaj, soliciting the latter’s advice even on the smallest matters. So efficient was the communication system that “letters were written every three days and replies were received in seven days,”12 so that the campaign was virtually directed by the veteran Hajjaj himself.13 When the siege of Debal had continued for some time a defector informed Muhammad about how the temple could be captured. Thereupon the Arabs, planting their ladders stormed the citadel-temple and swarmed over the walls. As per Islamic injunctions, the inhabitants were invited to accept Islam, and on their refusal all adult males were put to the sword and their wives and children were enslaved. The carnage lasted for three days. The temple was razed and a mosque built. Muhammad laid out a Muslim quarter, and placed a garrison of 4,000 in the town. The legal fifth of the spoil including seventy-five damsels was sent to Hajjaj, and the rest of the plunder was divided among the soldiers.14 As this was the pattern of all future sieges and victories of Muhammad bin Qasim - as indeed of all future Muslim invaders of Hindustan - it may be repeated. Inhabitants of a captured fort or town were invited to accept Islam. Those who converted were spared. Those who refused were massacred.  Their women and children were enslaved and converted. Temples were broken and on their sites and with their materials were constructed mosques, khanqahs, sarais and tombs.

Muhammad bin Qasim next advanced towards Nirun, situated near modern Hyderabad. The people of Nirun purchased their peace. Notwithstanding its voluntary surrender, Muhammad destroyed the “temple of Budh” at Nirun. He built a mosque at its site and appointed an Imam.15 After placing a garrison at the disposal of the Muslim governor, he marched to Sehwan (Siwistan), about 130 kilometres to the north-west. This town too was populated chiefly by Buddhists and traders. They too surrendered to the invader on condition of their remaining loyal and paying jiziyah.

Nirun’s surrender alarmed Raja Dahir and he and his men decided to meet the invader at Aror or Rawar. Qasim was bound for Brahmanabad but stopped short to engage Dahir first. In the vast plain of Rawar the Arabs encountered an imposing array of war elephants and a large army under the command of Dahir and his Rajput chiefs ready to give battle to the Muslims. Al Biladuri writes that after the battle lines were drawn, a dreadful conflict ensued such as had never been seen before, and the author of the Chachnama gives details of the valiant fight which Raja Dahir gave “mounted on his white elephant”. A naptha arrow struck Dahir’s howdah and set it ablaze. Dahir dismounted and fought desperately, but was killed towards the evening, “when the idolaters fled, and the Musulmans glutted themselves with massacre”. Raja Dahir’s queen Rani Bai and her son betook themselves into the fortress of Rawar, which had a garrison of 15 thousand. The soldiers fought valiantly, but the Arabs proved stronger. When the Rani saw her doom inevitable, she assembled all the women in the fort and addressed them thus: “God forbid that we should owe our liberty to those outcaste cow-eaters. Our honour would be lost. Our respite is at an end, and there is nowhere any hope of escape; let us collect wood, cotton and oil, for I think we should burn ourselves and go to meet our husbands. If any wish to save herself, she may.”16 They entered into a house where they burnt themselves in the fire of jauhar thereby vindicating the honour of their race. Muhammad occupied the fort, massacred the 6,000 men he found there and seized all the wealth and treasures that belonged to Dahir.

Muhammad now marched to Brahmanabad.17 On the way a number of garrisons in forts challenged his army, delaying his arrival in Brahmanabad. The civil population, as usual, longed for peace and let the Muslims enter the city. Consequently, it was spared, but Qasim “sat on the seat of cruelty and put all those who had fought to the sword. It is said that about six thousand fighting men were slain, but according to others sixteen thousand were killed”.18 Continuing his ravaging march northward, he proceeded to Multan, the chief city of the upper Indus with its famous Temple of Sun. Multan was ravaged and its treasures rifled. During his campaigns Muhammad bin Qasim concentrated on collecting the maximum wealth possible as he had to honour the promise he and his patron Hajjaj had made to the Caliph to reimburse to the latter the expenses incurred on the expedition. Besides the treasure collected from the various forts of the Sindhi King, freedom of worship to the Hindus could bring wealth in the form of pilgrim tax, jiziyah and other similar cesses. Hence, the temple of Brahmanabad was permitted to be rebuilt and old customs of worship allowed.19 In Multan also temple worship more or less went on as before. The expenses of the campaign had come to 60 thousand silver dirhams. Hajjaj paid to the Caliph double the amount - 120 thousand dirhams.20

Muhammad bin Qasim set about organising the administration of the conquered lands like this. The principal sources of revenue were the jiziyah and the land-tax. The Chachnama speaks of other taxes levied upon the cultivators such as the baj and ushari. The collection of jiziyah was considered a political as well as a religious duty, and was always exacted “with vigour and punctuality, and frequently with insult”. “The native population had to feed every Muslim traveller for three days and nights and had to submit to many other humiliations which are mentioned by Muslim historians.”21

Muhammad bin Qasim remained in Sind for a little over three years.22 Then he was suddenly recalled and summarily executed, probably by being sewn in an animal’s hide, on the charge of violating two Sindhi princesses meant for the harem of the Caliph. Such barbaric punishments to successful commanders by their jealous masters were not uncommon in Islamic history.23 However, the recall of Qasim was a God-sent relief to the Sindhis. After his departure the Arab power in Sind declined rapidly. Most of the neo-converts returned to their former faith. The Hindus had bowed before the onrush of the Muslim invasion; but they re-asserted their position once the storm had blown over.24 Denison Ross also says that after the recall of Muhammad bin Qasim, the Muslims retained some foothold on the west bank of the river Indus, but they were in such small number that they gradually merged into Hindu population. In Mansura (the Muslim capital of Sind) they actually adopted Hinduism.25

But Muslims or Islam did not disappear from Sind. A dent had been made in India's social fabric, and its wealth looted. Muslims who continued to retain the new faith remained confined mostly to cities, particularly Multan,26 and Multan according to Al Masudi (writing about C.E. 942) remained one of the strongest frontier places of the Musulmans.27 Ibn Hauqal, who finished his work in C.E. 976, also calls Multan a city with a strong fort, “but Mansura is more fertile and prosperous”. He also says that Debal “is a large mart and a port not only of this but neighbouring regions”. It would thus appear that by the tenth century the Muslim population had stabilized and integrated with the people of Sind. Ibn Hauqal writes: “The Muslims and infidels of this tract wear the same dresses, and let their beards grow in the same fashion. They use fine muslin garments on account of the extreme heat. The men of Multan dress in the same way. The language of Mansura, Multan and those parts is Arabic and Sindian…”28 This, in brief, was the social change brought about in Sind after the introduction of Islam there.

Before closing the discussion on the Arab invasion of Sind, a few aspects of the campaign may be evaluated. As Andre Wink points out, “In contrast to Persia… there is no indication that Buddhists converted more eagerly than brahmans. The theory that Muslim Arabs were ‘invited’ to Sind by Buddhist ‘traitors’ who aimed to undercut the brahmans’ power has nothing to recommend itself with. If Buddhists collaborated with the invaders, the brahmans did so no less… There was in short, no clear-cut religious antagonism that the Arabs could exploit.” At the same time, points out Gidumal, “It is extremely doubtful if Sind could have been conquered at all, had these (Sindhi) chiefs remained true to their king, and, curious as it may seem, it was ostensibly astrology that made traitors of them. For they said: ‘Our wise men have predicted that Sind will come under the sway of Islam. Why then should we battle against fate?’ ” And lastly, the misleading belief in the tolerance and kindness of Muhmamad bin Qasim stands cancelled on a study of the campaign in depth. The statement of Mohammad Habib that “Alone among the Muslim invaders of India Muhammad Qasim is a character of whom a concentious Musalman need not be ashamed”, and similar conclusions do not hold ground if his massacres, conversions and iconoclasm detailed in the Chachnama alone are any indicator.29

Second Invasion

A more terrifying wave of Islamic invasion came with Mahmud of Ghazni, three hundred years after the Arab invasion of Sind. During this period Islam was spreading in various regions outside India with varying degrees of success. Furthermore, the newly converted Turks, the slave protectors of the pious Caliphs, had carved out their own kingdoms at the expense of the Caliph’s “empire”. But to ensure their legitimacy as rulers they kept up a relationship of formal loyalty towards the Caliph. Such were the slave rulers Alaptigin and Subuktigin.

Amir Subuktigin (977-997 C.E.) made frequent expeditions into Hindustan, or more precisely into the Hindu Shahiya Brahman kingdom of Punjab which extended up to Kabul, “in the prosecution of holy wars, and there he conquered forts upon lofty hills, in order to seize the treasures they contained.” When Jayapal, the ruling prince of the dynasty, had ascertained from reports of travellers about the activities of Subuktigin, he hastened with a large army and huge elephants to wreak vengeance upon Subuktigin, “by treading the field of Islam under his feet”.30 After he had passed Lamghan, Subuktigin advanced from Ghazni with his son Mahmud. The armies fought successively against one another. Jayapal, with soldiers “as impetuous as a torrent,” was difficult to defeat, and so Subuktigin threw animal flesh (beef?) into the fountain which supplied water to the Hindu army.31 In consequence, Jayapal sued for peace. But for greater gains, Subuktigin delayed negotiations, and Jayapal’s envoys were sent back. Jayapal again requested for cessation of hostilities and sent ambassadors, observing: “You have seen the impetuosity of the Hindus and their indifference to death, whenever any calamity befalls them, as at this moment. If, therefore, you refuse to grant peace in the hope of obtaining plunder, tribute, elephants and prisoners, then there is no alternative for us but to mount the horse of stern determination, destroy our property, take out the eyes of our elephants, cast our children into the fire, and rush on each other with sword and spear, so that all that will be left to you, is stones and dirt, dead bodies, and scattered bones.”32

Jayapal’s spirited declaration convinced Subuktigin “that religion and the views of the faithful would be best consulted by peace”. He fixed a tribute of cash and elephants on the Shahiya king and nominated officers to collect them. But Jayapal, having reflected on the ruse played by the adversaries in contaminating the water-supply leading to his discomfiture, refused to pay anything, and imprisoned the Amir’s officers. At this Subuktigin marched out towards Lamghan and conquered it. He set fire to the places in its vicinity, demolished idol temples, marched and captured other cities and established Islam in them. At last Jayapal decided to fight once more, and satisfy his revenge. He collected troops to the number of more than one hundred thousand, “which resembled scattered ants and locusts”. Subuktigin on his part “made bodies of five hundred attack the enemy with their maces in hand, and relieve each other when one party became tired, so that fresh men and horses were constantly engaged… The dust which arose prevented the eyes from seeing… It was only when the dust was allayed that it was found that Jayapal had been defeated and his troops had fled leaving behind them their property, utensils, arms, provisions, elephants, and horses.”33 Subuktigin levied tribute and obtained immense booty, besides two hundred elephants of war. He also increased his army by enrolling those Afghans and Khaljis who submitted to him and thereafter expended their lives in his service.

Subuktigin’s son Mahmud ascended the throne at Ghazni in C.E. 998 and in 1000 he delivered his first attack against India in continuation of the work of his ancestor. During the three hundred years between Muhammad bin Qasim and Mahmud Ghaznavi, Islamic Shariat had got a definite and permanent shape in the four well-defined schools of Muslim jurisprudence-Hanafi, Shafii, Hanbali and Malaki. The Quran and the six orthodox collections of Hadis were also now widely known. Mahmud himself was well-versed in the Quran and was considered its eminent interpreter.34 He drew around himself, by means of lavish generosity, a galaxy of eminent theologians, scholars, and divines so that on his investiture, when he vowed to the Caliph of Baghdad to undertake every year a campaign against the idolaters of India, he knew that “jihad was central to Islam and that one campaign at least must be undertaken against the unbelievers every year.” Mahmud could launch forth seventeen expeditions during the course of the next thirty years and thereby fulfilled his promise to the Caliph both in letter and in spirit of Islamic theology. For this he has been eulogized sky-high by Muslim poets and Muslim historians. He on his part was always careful to include the Caliph’s name on his coins, depict himself in his Fateh-namas as a warrior for the faith, and to send to Baghdad presents from the plunder of his Indian campaign.35 The Caliph Al-Qadir Billah in turn praised the talents and exploits of Mahmud, conferred upon him the titles of Amin-ul-millah and Yamin-ud-daula (the Right hand) after which his house is known as Yamini Dynasty.

Let us very briefly recapitulate the achievements of Sultan Mahmud in the usual fields of Islamic expansionism, conversions of non-Muslims to Islam, destruction of temples and acquisition of wealth in order to appreciate the encomiums bestowed upon him as being one of the greatest Muslim conquerors of medieval India. In his first attack of frontier towns in C.E. 1000 Mahmud appointed his own governors and converted some inhabitants. In his attack on Waihind (Peshawar) in 1001-3, Mahmud is reported to have captured the Hindu Shahiya King Jayapal and fifteen of his principal chiefs and relations some of whom like Sukhpal, were made Musalmans. At Bhera all the inhabitants, except those who embraced Islam, were put to the sword. At Multan too conversions took place in large numbers, for writing about the campaign against Nawasa Shah (converted Sukhpal), Utbi says that this and the previous victory (at Multan) were “witnesses to his exalted state of proselytism.”36 In his campaign in the Kashmir Valley (1015) Mahmud “converted many infidels to Muhammadanism, and having spread Islam in that country, returned to Ghazni.” In the later campaign in Mathura, Baran and Kanauj, again, many conversions took place. While describing “the conquest of Kanauj,” Utbi sums up the situation thus: “The Sultan levelled to the ground every fort… and the inhabitants of them either accepted Islam, or took up arms against him.” In short, those who submitted were also converted to Islam. In Baran (Bulandshahr) alone 10,000 persons were converted including the Raja. During his fourteenth invasion in 1023 C.E. Kirat, Nur, Lohkot and Lahore were attacked. The chief of Kirat accepted Islam, and many people followed his example. According to Nizamuddin Ahmad, “Islam spread in this part of the country by the consent of the people and the influence of force.” According to all contemporary and later chroniclers like Qazwini, Utbi, Farishtah etc., conversion of Hindus to Islam was one of the objectives of Mahmud. Wherever he went, he insisted on the people to convert to Islam. Such was the insistence on the conversion of the vanquished Hindu princes that many rulers just fled before Mahmud even without giving a battle. “The object of Bhimpal in recommending the flight of Chand Rai was that the Rai should not fall into the net of the Sultan, and thus be made a Musalman, as had happened to Bhimpal’s uncles and relations, when they demanded quarter in their distress.”37

Mahmud broke temples and desecrated idols wherever he went. The number of temples destroyed by him during his campaigns is so large that a detailed list is neither possible nor necessary. However, he concentrated more on razing renowned temples to bring glory to Islam rather than waste time on small ones. Some famous temples destroyed by him may be noted here. At Thaneshwar, the temple of Chakraswamin was sacked and its bronze image of Vishnu was taken to Ghazni to be thrown into the hippodrome of the city. Similarly, the magnificent central temple of Mathura was destroyed and its idols broken. At Mathura there was no armed resistance; the people had fled, and Mahmud had been greatly impressed with the beauty and grandeur of the shrines.38 And yet the temples in the city were thoroughly sacked. Kanauj had a large number of temples (Utbi’s ‘ten thousand’ merely signifies a large number), some of great antiquity. Their destruction was made easy by the flight of those who were not prepared either to die or embrace Islam. Somnath shared the fate of Chakraswamin.39

The sack of Somnath in particular came to be considered a specially pious exploit because of its analogy with the destruction of idol of Al Manat in Arabia by the Prophet. This “explains the idolization of Mahmud by Nizam-ul-Mulk Tusi,40 and the ideal treatment he has received from early Sufi poets like Sanai and Attar, not to mention such collectors of anecdotes as Awfi.”41 It is indeed noticeable that after the Somnath expedition (417H./ 1026 C.E.), “a deed which had fired the imagination of the Islamic world”, Caliph al-Qadir Billah himself celebrated the victory with great eclat. He sent Mahmud a very complimentary letter giving him the title of Kahf-ud-daula wa al-Islam, and formally recognizing him as the ruler of Hindustan.42 It is also significant that Mahmud for the first time issued his coins from Lahore only after his second commendation from the Caliph.

Mahmud Ghaznavi collected lot of wealth from regions of his visitations. A few facts and figures may be given as illustrations. In his war against Jayapal (1001-02 C.E.) the latter had to pay a ransom of 2,50,000 dinars for securing release from captivity. Even the necklace of which he was relieved was estimated at 2,00,000 dinars (gold coin) “and twice that value was obtained from the necks of those of his relatives who were taken prisoners or slain…”43 A couple of years later, all the wealth of Bhera, which was “as wealthy as imagination can conceive”, was captured by the conqueror (1004-05 C.E.). In 1005-06 the people of Multan were forced to pay an indemnity of the value of 20,000,000 (royal) dirhams (silver coin). When Nawasa Shah, who had reconverted to Hinduism, was ousted (1007-08), the Sultan took possession of his treasures amounting to 400,000 dirhams. Shortly after, from the fort of Bhimnagar in Kangra, Mahmud seized coins of the value of 70,000,000 (Hindu Shahiya) dirhams, and gold and silver ingots weighing some hundred maunds, jewellery and precious stones. There was also a collapsible house of silver, thirty yards in length and fifteen yards in breadth, and a canopy (mandapika) supported by two golden and two silver poles.44 Such was the wealth obtained that it could not be shifted immediately, and Mahmud had to leave two of his “most confidential” chamberlains, Altuntash and Asightin, to look after its gradual transportation.45 In the succeeding expeditions (1015-20) more and more wealth was drained out of the Punjab and other parts of India. Besides the treasures collected by Mahmud, his soldiers also looted independently. From Baran Mahmud obtained, 1,000,000 dirhams and from Mahaban a large booty. In the sack of Mathura five idols alone yielded 98,300 misqals (about 10 maunds) of gold.46 The idols of silver numbered two hundred. Kanauj, Munj, Asni, Sharva and some other places yielded another 3,000,000 dirhamsWe may skip over many other details and only mention that at Somnath his gains amounted to 20,000,000 dinars.47 These figures are more or less authentic as Abu Nasr Muhammad Utbi, who mentions them, was the Secretary to Sultan Mahmud, so that he enjoyed excellent opportunities of becoming fully conversant with the operations and gains of the conqueror. He clearly notes the amount when collected in Hindu Shahiya coinage or in some other currency, and also gives the value of all acquisitions in the royal (Mahmud’s) coins. A little error here or there does in no way minimise the colossal loss suffered by north India in general and the Punjab in particular during Mahmud’s invasions.

The extent of this loss can be gauged from the fact that no coins (dramma) of Jayapal, Anandpal or Trilochanpal have been found.48 The economic effects of the loss of precious metals to India had a number of facets. The flow of bullion outside India resulted in stablizing Ghaznavid currency49 and in the same proportion debasing Indian. Consequently, the gold content of north Indian coins in the eleventh and twelfth centuries went down from 120 to 60 grams.50 Similarly, the weight and content of the silver coin was also reduced. Because of debasement of coinage Indian merchants lost their credit with foreign merchants.51

Outflow of bullion adversely affected India’s balance of trade in another way. India had always been a seller of raw and finished goods against precious metals. She had “swallowed up precious metals, both from the mineral resources of Tibet and Central Asia and from trade with the Islamic world…”52 Now this favourable position was lost. Indian merchants were even unable to ply their trade because of disturbed political conditions. One reason which had prompted Anandpal to send an embassy to Mahmud at Ghazni with favourable terms to the Sultan (C. 1012) was to try to normalize trade facilities, and after an agreement “caravans (again) travelled in full security between Khurasan and Hind.”53 But the balance of trade for many years went on tilting in favour of the lands west of the Indus.

Besides, the Ghaznavids collected in loot and tribute valuable articles of trade like indigo, fine muslins, embroidered silk, and cotton stuffs, and things prepared from the famous Indian steel, which have received praise at the hands of Utbi, Hasan Nizami, Alberuni and many others. For example, one valuable commodity taken from India was indigo. From Baihaqi, who writes the correct Indian word nil for the dyestuff, it appears that 20,000 mans (about 500 maunds) of indigo was taken to Ghazna every year. According to Baihaqi, Sultan Masud once sent 25,000 mans (about 600 maunds) of indigo to the Caliph at Baghdad, for “the Sultans often reserved part of this (valuable commodity) for their own usage, and often sent it as part of presents for the Caliph or for other rulers”.54

Mahmud’s jihad, or the jihad of any invader or ruler for that matter, was accompanied by extreme cruelty. The description of the attack on Thanesar (Kurukshetra) is detailed. “The chief of Thanesar was… obstinate in his infidelity and denial of Allah, so the Sultan marched against him with his valiant warriors, for the purpose of planting the standards of Islam and extirpating idolatry… The blood of the infidels flowed so copiously that the stream was discoloured, and people were unable to drink it… Praise be to Allah… for the honour he bestows upon Islam and Musalmans.”55 Similarly, in the slaughter at Sirsawa near Saharanpur, “The Sultan summoned the most religiously disposed of his followers, and ordered them to attack the enemy immediately. Many infidels were consequently slain or taken prisoners in this sudden attack, and the Musalmans paid no regard to the booty till they had satiated themselves with the slaughter of the infidels… The friends of Allah searched the bodies of the slain for three whole days, in order to obtain booty…”56 With such achievements to his credit, there is little wonder that Mahmud of Ghazni has remained the ideal, the model, of Muslims-medieval and modern.

Mahmud Ghaznavi had destroyed the Hindu Shahiya dynasty of Punjab. Alberuni, who witnessed its extinction says about its kings that “in all their grandeur, they never slackened in their ardent desire of doing that which is right,… they were men of noble sentiments and noble bearing”57 On the other hand, the Ghaznavid rule in the Punjab was essentially militarist and imperialist in character, “whose sole business was to wage war against the Thakurs and Rajas (whereby) Mahmud sought to make the plunder of Hindustan a permanent affair”.58 The susceptibilities of the Indians were naturally wounded by an “inopportune display of religious bigotry”, and indulgence in women and wine.59 In such a situation, "Hindu sciences retired away from those parts of the country conquered by us, and fled to Kashmir, Benaras and other places”.60

Sultan Mahmud’s acts of Islamic piety like iconoclasm and proselytization were continued by future Muslim invaders and rulers and became a legacy of Muslim rule in India.

Mahmud was present with Subuktigin when the latter received the letter of Jayapal, cited above, emphasising the impetuosity of the Hindu soldiers and their indifference to death, and the Ghaznavids were convinced of their bravery and spirit of sacrifice. Years later Hasan Nizami, the author of Taj-ul-Maasir wrote about them like this: “The Hindus… in the rapidity of their movements exceeded the wild ass and the deer, you might say they were demons in human form.”61 Mahmud Ghaznavi therefore employed Hindu soldiers and sent them, along with Turks, Khaljis, Afghans and Ghaznavids against Ilak Khan when the latter intruded into his dominions.62 We learn from Baihaqi’s Tarikh-i-Subuktigin and “from other histories” that “even only fifty days after the death of Mahmud, his son dispatched Sewand Rai, a Hindu chief, with a numerous body of Hindu cavalry, in pursuit of the nobles who had espoused the cause of his brother. In a few days a conflict took place, in which Sewand Rai, and the greatest part of his troops were killed; but not till after they had inflicted a heavy loss upon their opponents. Five years afterwards we read of Tilak, son of Jai Sen, commander of all the Indian troops in the service of the Ghaznavid monarch, being employed to attack the rebel chief, Ahmad Niyaltigin. He pursued the enemy so closely that many thousands fell into his hands. Ahmad himself was slain while attempting to escape across a river, by a force of Hindu Jats, whom Tilak had raised against him. This is the same Tilak whose name is written in the Tabqat-i-Akbari, as Malik bin Jai Sen, which if correct, would convey the opinion of the author of that work, that this chief was a Hindu convert. Five years after that event we find that Masud, unable to withstand the power of the Seljuq Turkomans, retreated to India, and remained there for the purpose of raising a body of troops sufficient to make another effort to retrieve his affairs. It is reasonable therefore to presume that the greater part of these troops consisted of Hindus. “Bijai Rai, a general of the Hindus… had done much service even in the time of Mahmud.”63 Thus, employment of Hindu contingents in Muslim armies, was a heritage acquired by the Muslim rulers in India.

Another inheritance was acquisition of wealth from Indian towns and cities whenever it suited the convenience or needs of Muslim conquerors, raiders or rulers. “It happened,” writes Utbi, “that 20,000 men from Mawaraun nahr and its neighbourhood, who were with the Sultan (Mahmud), were anxious to be employed on some holy expedition in which they might obtain martyrdom. The Sultan determined  to march with them to Kanauj…”64 In other words, the Ghazis, to whom the loot from India had become an irresistible temptation, insisted on Mahmud to lead them to India for fresh adventures in plunder and spoliation. Even when Muslim Sultanate had been established, Muhammad Ghauri determined on prosecuting a holy war in Hind in 602 H. (1205 C.E.), “in order to repair the fortunes of his servants and armies; for within the last few years, Khurasan, on account of the disasters it had sustained, yielded neither men nor money. When he arrived in Hind, God gave him such a victory that his treasures were replenished, and his armies renewed”.65

In brief, Mahmud was a religious and political imperialist through and through.66 It took him more than twenty years to extend his dominions into Punjab. But he was keenly interested in acquiring territory in India,67 and he succeeded in his aim. It is another matter that the peace and prosperity of Punjab was gone as suggested by Alberuni’s encomiums of the Hindu Shahiya kings,68 and it was superseded by despotism and exploitation.69 Later chroniclers write with a tinge of pride that fourteen Ghaznavids ruled at Lahore and its environs for nearly two hundred years.70 But there was progressive deterioration in their administration. However, the importance of his occupation of most part of the Punjab lies in the fact that Muslims had come to stay in India. And these Muslims helped in the third wave of Muslim onrush which swept northern India under Muhammad Ghauri.

Third Invasion

Muhammad Ghauri’s invasion was mounted 150 years after the death of Mahmud Ghaznavi. How the Ghauris rose on the ashes of the Ghaznavids may be recapitulated very briefly. Sultan Mahmud died in Ghazni on 20 April 1030 at the age of sixty, leaving immense treasures and a vast empire. After his death his two sons Muhammad and Masud contested for the throne in which the latter was successful. Masud recalled Ariyaruk, the oppressive governor of Punjab, and in his place appointed Ahmad Niyaltigin. Niyaltigin marched to Benaras to which no Muslim army had gone before. The markets of the drapers, perfumers and jewellers were plundered and an immese booty in gold, silver, and jewels was seized. This success aroused the covetousness of Masud who decided to march to Hindustan in person for a holy war. He set out for India by way of Kabul in November 1037. Hansi was stormed and sacked in February the next year, but the Sultan on return realised that the campaign had been counterproductive. During his absence Tughril Beg, the Seljuq, had sacked a portion of Ghazni town and seized Nishapur in 1037. Khurasan was rapidly falling into the hands of the Seljuqs and western Persia was throwing off the yoke of Ghazni. On the Indian side an army of 80,000 Hindus under Mahipal seized Lahore in 1043, but hastily withdrew on the approach of forces from Ghazni. But curiously enough it was neither the Seljuq danger nor the threat from the Indian side that uprooted the Ghaznavids. The Seljuqs were not interested in the hilly terrain of what is now called Afghanistan, and were spreading westward to Damascus and the Mediterranean. The power that actually ousted the Ghaznavids comprised the almost insignificant tribesmen of the rugged hills of Ghaur lying between Ghazni and Herat, with their castle of Firoz Koh (Hill of Victory). They had submitted to Mahmud in 1010 C.E. and had joined his army on his Indian campaigns. But when the power of the Ghaznavids declined they raised their head. To take revenge of the death of two brothers at the hands of the Ghazni ruler, a third, Alauddin Husain, carried fire and sword throughout the kingdom. The new Ghazni which had been built by Sultan Mahmud at the cost of seven million gold coins was burnt down by Husain (1151), which earned him the title of Jahan-soz (world burner). The very graves of the hated dynasty were dug up and scattered, “but even Afghan vengeance spared the tomb of Mahmud, the idol of Muslim soldiers”. Near the modern town of Ghazni that tomb and two minarets (on one of which may still be read the lofty titles of the idol-breaker) alone stand to show where, but not what, the old Ghazni was.

Alauddin, the world-burner died in 1161, and his son two years later, whereupon his nephew, Ghiyasuddin bin Sam, became the chief of Ghaur. He brought order to Ghazni and established his younger brother Muizuddin on the ruined throne of Mahmud (1173-74). Ghiyasuddin ruled at Firoz Koh and Muizuddin at Ghazni. The latter is known by three names as Muizuddin bin Sam, Shihabuddin Ghauri and Muhammad Ghauri. Muhammad Ghauri entered upon a career of conquest of India from this city.

Muhammad Ghauri was not as valiant and dashing as Mahmud, but his knowledge about India and about Islam was much better. He now possessed Alberuni’s India and Burhanuddin’s Hidaya, works which were not available to his predecessor invaders. Alberuni’s encyclopaedic work provided to Islamic world in the eleventh century all that was advantageous to know on India.71 It provided information on Hindu religion, Hindu philosophy, and sources of civil and religious law. Hindu sciences of astronomy, astrology, knowledge of distance of planets, and solar and lunar eclipses, physics and metaphysics are all discussed by him. Ideas on matrimony and human biology are not ignored. Hindu customs and ceremonies, their cities, kingdoms, rivers and oceans are all described. But such a treatise, written with sympathetic understanding, evoked little kindness for the Indian people in the Muslim mind, for to them equally important was the Hidaya, the most authentic work on the laws of Islam compiled by Shaikh Burhanud-din Ali in the twelfth century. The Shaikh claims to have studied all earlier commentaries on the Quran and the Hadis belonging to the schools of Malik, Shafi and Hanbal besides that of Hanifa.72 These and similar works and the military manuals like the Siyasat Nama and the Adab-ul-Harb made the Ghauris and their successors better equipped for the conquest and governance of non-Muslim India. There need be no doubt that such works were made available, meticulously studied and constantly referred to by scholars attached to the courts of Muslim conquerors and kings.

Muhammad Ghauri led his first expedition to Multan and Gujarat in 1175. Three years later he again marched by way of Multan, Uchch and the waterless Thar desert toward Anhilwara Patan in Gujarat, but the Rajput Bhim gave him crushing defeat (1178-79).73 The debacle did not discourage Muhammad’s dogged tenacity. It only spurred him to wrest Punjab from the Ghaznavid, and make it a base of operations for further penetration into Indian territory. He annexed Peshawar in 1180 and marched to Lahore the next year. He led two more expeditions,74 in 1184 and 1186-87, before Lahore was captured. By false promise Khusrau Malik, a prince of the Ghaznavid dynasty, was induced to come out of the fortress, was taken prisoner and sent to Ghazni. He was murdered in 1201. Not a single member of the house of Mahmud Ghaznavi was allowed to survive and the dynasty was annihilated.

With Punjab in hand, Muhammad Ghauri began to plan his attack on the Ajmer-Delhi Kingdom. Muhammad bin Qasim had fought against the Buddhist-Brahmin rulers of Sind, and Mahmud of Ghazni against the Brahman Hindu Shahiyas of the Punjab. But now fighting had to be done with the Rajputs who had by now risen everywhere to defend their motherland against the repeated invasions of foreign freebooters. Muhammad Ghauri had already tasted defeat at the hands of Solanki Rajputs in Gujarat. Therefore, he made elaborate preparations before marching towards the Punjab in 587 H./1191 C.E. He captured Bhatinda, which had been retaken by the Rajputs from the possession of its Ghaznavid governor, and placed it in charge of Qazi Ziyauddin Talaki with a contingent of 1200 horse. He was about to return to Ghazni when he learnt that Prithviraj Chauhan, the Rajput ruler of Ajmer-Delhi, was coming with a large force to attack him. He turned to meet him and encountered him at Tarain or Taraori, about ten kilometers north of Karnal. The Rajput army comprised hundreds of elephants and a few thousand horse. The Muslims were overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers and their left and right wings were broken. In the centre, Muhammad Ghauri charged at Govind Rai, the brother of Prithviraj, and shattered his teeth with his lance. But Govind Rai drove his javelin through the Sultan’s arm, and had not a Khalji Turk come to his immediate assistance, Muhammad would have lost his life.75 His rescue and recovery helped save his army which continued its retreat in good order. Prithviraj besieged Bhatinda but the gallant Ziyauddin held out for thirteen months before he capitulated.

At Ghazni, Muhammad severely punished the Ghauri, Khalji and Khurasani amirs,76 whom he held responsible for his defeat. Wallets full of oats were tied to their necks and in this plight they were paraded through the city. The Sultan himself was overcome with such shame that he would neither eat nor drink nor change garments till he had avenged himself Next year he again started from Ghazni towards Hindustan with full preparations and with a force of one hundred and two thousand Turks, Persians and Afghans. On reaching Lahore, he sent an ambassador to Ajmer and invited Prithviraj to make his submission and accept Islam. The arrogant message met with a befitting retort, and the armies of the two once more encamped opposite each other on the banks of Saraswati at Tarain, 588 H./1192 C.E. The Rajput army was far superior in numbers. Prithviraj had succeeded in enlisting the support of about one hundred Rajput princes who rallied round his banner with their elephants, cavalry and infantry. To counter such a vast number Muhammad Ghauri “adopted a tactic which bewildered the Rajputs”. “Of the five divisions of his army, four composed of mountain archers, were instructed to attack (by turns) the flanks and, if possible, the rear of the Hindus, but to avoid hand to hand conflicts and, if closely pressed, to feign flight.”77 He delivered a dawn attack when the Indians were busy in the morning ablutions; the Hindus had to fight the invaders on empty stomach. Explaining the reason for the empty stomach Dr. Jadunath Sarkar writes: “It was the Hindu practice to prepare for the pitched battle by waking at 3 O’clock in the morning, performing the morning wash and worship, eating the cooked food (pakwan) kept ready before hand, putting on arms and marching out to their appointed places in the line of battle before sunrise… But in the second battle of Naraina (also called Tarain, Taraori) the Rajputs could take no breakfast; they had to snatch up their arms and form their lines as best as they could in a hurry… In vain did they try to pursue the Turko-Afghan army from 9 o’clock in the morning to 3 o’clock in the afternoon at the end of which the Hindus were utterly exhausted from the fighting, hunger and thirst.”78

When Muhammad found that the Rajput army was sufficiently wearied, he charged their centre with 12,000 of the flower of his cavalry. The Rajputs were completely routed. Govind Rai was killed. Prithviraj was captured79 in the neighbourhood of the river Saraswati and put to death. Enormous spoils fell into the hands of the Muslim army.

With the defeat and death of Prithviraj Chauhan, the task of the invader became easy. Sirsuti, Samana, Kuhram and Hansi were captured in quick succession with ruthless slaughter and a general destruction of temples and building of mosques. The Sultan then proceeded to Ajmer which too witnessed similar scenes. Through a diplomatic move, Ajmer was made over to a son of Prithviraj on promise of punctual payment of tribute. In Delhi an army of occupation was stationed at Indraprastha under the command of Qutbuddin Aibak who was to act as Ghauri’s lieutenant in Hindustan.80

Further extension of territory was in the logic of conquest. After Prithviraj, the power of Jayachandra, the Gahadvala chief, was challenged. Jayachandra had not come to the aid of Prithviraj hoping, perhaps, that after the defeat of the Chauhan ruler he himself would become the sole master of Hindustan. He was old and experienced, his capital was Kanauj, his dominion extended as far as Varanasi in the east, and he was reputed to be a very powerful prince of the time.

The Sultan himself marched from Ghazni in 1193 at the head of fifty thousand horse and gave a crushing defeat to Jayachandra on the Jamuna between Chandwar and Etah, and Kanauj and Varanasi became part of Muhammad Ghauri’s dominions. The usual vandalism and acts of destruction at Varanasi struck terror into the hearts of the people about the cruelty of the “Turushkas”.

Incidental Fallout

The three waves of invasions under Muhammad bin Qasim, Mahmud of Ghazni and Muhammad of Ghaur, took about five Hundred years to establish Muslim rule in India. For another five hundred years Muslim sultans and emperors ruled over the country. Invaders are cruel and unscrupulous by nature and profession, and there is nothing surprising about the behaviour of these Muslim invaders. But what is unusual is that these invaders left almost a permanent legacy of political and social turmoil in India because their aims and methods were continued by Muslims even after they had become rulers.

It was the practice of the invaders to capture defenceless people and make them slaves for service and sale. We shall deal with this phenomenon by Muslim conquerors and rulers in some detail later on. Here we shall confine to the taking of captives in the early years of Muslim invasions and how it led to rather strange occurrences. Many captives taken by conquerors like Mahmud of Ghazni were sold as slaves in Transoxiana, and the Arab Empire. But many people also fled the country to save themselves from enslavement and conversion. Centuries later they are today known as Romanies or Gypsies and are found in almost all European countries like Turkey, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain and Britain and even in America. In spite of being treated as aliens in Europe, in spite of persistent persecution (as for example in Germany under Hitler), they are today around 6 millions.81

Their nomenclature is derived from roma or man. They also call themselves Roma chave or sons of Rama, the Indian God. Gypsy legends identifying India as their land of origin, Baro Than (the Great Land), are numerous and carefully preserved.82 Researches based on their language, customs, rituals and physiogonomy affirm that it is Hindus from India who form the bulk of these people in Europe. “They are remarkable for their yellow brown, or rather olive colour, of their skin; the jet-black of their hair and eyes, the extreme whiteness of their teeth, and generally for the symmetry of their limbs.”83

It is believed that the first exodus of the Roma out of India took place in the seventh century which coincides with the Arab invasion of Sind. In about 700 C.E. they are found serving as musicians of the Persian court.84 Mahmud Ghazni took them away in every campaign. Their biggest group, according to Jan Kochanowski, left the country and set off across Afghanistan to Europe in the twelfth-thirteenth century after the defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan at the hands of Muhammad Ghauri.85 Even today “a visit to the new community of Romanies (Gypsies) in Skojpe in the southeastern part of Yugoslavia is like entering a village in Rajasthan”.86

“With regard to their language, a large number of the words in different dialects are of Indian origin… as their persons and customs show much of the Hindu character.”87 They are freedom loving and prefer tent life. Their marriages are simple, Indian type. There is no courtship before marriage. Taking parikrama (rounds) around the fire is wholly binding, just as in India. Originally they were vegetarians. Holi and other Hindu festivals are celebrated in Serbia and Spain. Most of them have converted to Christianity but maintain Shiva’s Trisula (trident) - symbol of God’s three powers of desire, action and wisdom. Gypsies are divided into caste groups who live in separate areas or mohallas. There are 149 sub-castes among the Bulgarian gypsies. Their professions comprise working in wood and iron, making domestic utensils, mats and baskets and practising astrology, telling fortunes and sometimes indulging in tricks. Their talent for music is remarkable.88 Their dance and music is voluptuous, of the Indian dom-domni type. A classic example is the Gypsy women’s snake dance, which is still performed in Rajasthan. Their language has many Indian words. They have manush for man, zott for Jat, Yak, dui, trin for ek, do, tinThey have lovari for lohari (smith), Sinti for Sindhi, sui for needle, sachchi for true and duur ja for go away. We may close with the old Gypsy saying: “Our caravan is our family, and the world is our family which is a direct adaptation of the Sanskrit saying Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.”89

The Romanies or Gypsies left India or were taken away from here centuries ago. Their history comes down to our own times and is extremely absorbing. But their transplantation cannot now be counted as a legacy of Muslim conquest or rule in India. However, there are other activities of Muslim conquerors and rulers like converting people to Islam or breaking idols and temples which are still continuing and which therefore form part of Muslim heritage. We shall now turn to these.


1 Chachnama, trs.  Kalichbeg, p. 11 and n.

2 Yule, Ser Marco Polo, II, pp.334-36,359; Alberuni, I, p.208; Biladuri, E and D, I, p.456.

3 Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah Farishtah, a seventeenth century historian, basing his researches (Khama-i-Tahqiq) on the works of Khulasat-ul-Hikayat, Hajjaj Nama and the history of Haji Muhammad Qandhari says that before the advent of Islam Indian Brahmans used to travel to and fro by sea to the temples of Ka’aba to administer worship of the idols there, and there was constant movement of people between Ceylon, India and the countries of what is now called West Asia (Farishtah, II, p.311); Biladuri, Futuh-ul-Buldan, E and D, I, pp. 118-119; Elliot’s Appendix, E and D, I, pp.414-484, citing Chachnama, p.432.

4 Elliot’s Appendix, pp.428-29.

5 Ibid., p.431 citing Abul Fida, Chachnama and Tuhfat-ul-Kiram.

6 Al Biladuri, p.123; Chachnama, p.206.

7 Al Biladuri, Futuh-ul-Buldan trs.  E and D, I, pp.119-120.

8 For details see Lal, K.S., Early Muslims in India, p.14.

9 Al Biladuri, p.119. Also E and D, I, Appendix, p.434.

10 Elliot, Appendix, E and D, I, p.435.

11 Chachnama, p.191.

12 Al Biladuri, p.119; Elliot’s Appendix, p.436.

13 Chachnama, E & D, I, pp.188, 1819.

14 W. Haig, C.H.I., III, p.3.

15 Al Biladuri, p.121; Chachnama, pp.157-58; Elliot’s Appendix, E and D, I, p.432. See Chachnama, trs. Kalichbeg, pp.85,113,128 for forcible conversions; pp.83,87,155,161,173-74 for massacres; pp.190,196 for enslavement; pp.92, 99, 100, 190 for destruction of temples and construction of mosques at their sites.

16 Chachnama, pp.122,172.

17 Elliot’s note on Brahmanabad is worthy of perusal (Appendix, E and D, I, pp.369-74).

18 Mohammad Habib, “The Arab Conquest of Sind’ in Politics and Society During the Early Medieval Period being the collected works of M. Habib, Ed.  K.A. Nizami, II, pp.1-35. Al Biladuri, p.122 has 8,000 or 26,000.

19 Chachnama, pp.185-86.

20 Chachnama, p.206. Al Biladuri, however, has 60 million and 120 million respectively (E and D, I, p.123). See also Elliot’s Appendix, I, p. 470 and n.

21 Ishwari Prasad, Medieval India (1940 ed.), p.63.

22 Chachnama, pp.185-86.

23 Exactly at this very point of time a similar story of success and punishment was being enacted at the other end of the then known world. Musa, the governor of North Africa, sent his commander Tariq with 7,000 men to march into the Iberian peninsula. Tariq landed at Gibraltar and utterly routed the armies of Visigothic King Roderick in July 711. He then headed towards Toledo, the capital, and attacked Cordova. Jealous of the unexpected success of his lieutenant, Musa himself with 10,000 troops rushed to Spain in June 712. It was in or near Toledo that Musa met Tariq. Here he whipped his subordinate and put him in chains for refusing to obey orders to halt in the early stage of the campaign. Musa nevertheless continued with the conquest himself. Ironically enough, in the autumn of the same year the Caliph Al-Walid in distant Damuscus recalled Musa. Musa entered Damuscus in February 715. Al-Walid was dead by then, and his brother and successor Sulaiman humiliated Musa, made him stand in the sun until exhausted, and confiscated his property. The last we bear of the aged conqueror of Africa and Spain (“he affected to disguise his age by colouring with a red powder the whiteness of his beard”), is as a beggar in a remote village near Mecca (Hitti, op. cit., pp.62-67; Gibbon, op. cit., II, pp.769-779).

24 Al Biladuri, p. 126.  Also cf. Idrisi, p.89.

25 Denison Ross, Islam, p.18. Also Lal, K.S., Indian Muslims: Who are They (New Delhi, 1990), pp.3-4.

26 Lal, K.S., Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India (Delhi l973), P.99.

27 Muruj-ul-Zuhab, p.20. Also Idrisi, Nuzhat-ul-Mushtaq, p.82.

28 Ashkalal-ul Bilad, pp.36, 37.

29 Andre Wink, Al-Hind, I, p.151, and reference. Dayaram Gidumal’s Introduction to Chachanama’s trs. by Kalichbeg, p.vii; M. Habib, Collected Works, ed.  K.A. Nizami, II, pp. 1-35, esp. p. 32; Lal, Early Muslims in India, pp. 21-25.

30 Utbi, Tarikh-i-Yamini, E and D, II, pp.20-21.

31 Ibid., p.20; Ufi, Jamiul Hikayat, p.181. Elliot’s Appendix, on the authority of Abul Fazl, specifically mentions animal’s flesh. p.439. The trick was common. The Fort of Sevana was captured by Alauddin Khalji by contaminating the fort’s water supply by throwing a cow’s head into the tank. See Lal, Khaljis, p.115.

32 Utbi, op. cit., p.21.

33 Utbi, op. cit., pp.22-23.

34 Bosworth, C.E., The Ghaznavids (Edinburgh, 1963) p.129; Utbi, Kitab-i-Yamini, trs. by James Reynolds (London, 1885): pp.438-39 and n.

35 Hodivala. S.H., Studies in Indo-Muslim History (Bombay,1939).

36 For conversions at various places under Mahmud see Utbi, Kitab-i-Yamini, Eng. trs.  Reynolds, pp.451-52, 455, 460, 462-63 and Utbi, Tarikh-i-Yamini, E and D, II, pp.27, 30, 33, 40, 42, 43, 45, 49. Also Appendix in E and D, II, pp.434-78.

38 Utbi, p.44; Farishtah, I, p.29 for temples at Mathura.

39 Alberuni, II, p.103.

40 Siyasat Nama (ed. Shefer), pp.77-80,138-156.

41 Aziz Ahmad, Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment (Oxford, 1%4), p.79.

Shah Waliullah considered Mahmud as the greatest ruler after Khilafat-i-Khass. He argues that “in reference to Mahmud historians failed to recognize that his horoscope had been identical to the Prophet’s and that this fact had abled him to obtain significant victories in wars to propagate Islam” (Rizvi, History of Sufism, II, p.382 citing from Shah Waliullah, Qurrat al-aynain fi tafil al-shaykhayan, Delhi, 1893, p.324).

42 Farishtah, I, pp.30, 35.

43 Utbi, Reynolds, p.282.

44 The house was quite large, covering an area of about a thousand square feet. Hodivala also says that the canopy must have been what the old annalists of Gujarat call a Mandapika. It was a folding pavilion for being used in royal journeys, and not a throne (Hodivala, op. cit. p.143).

45 On return to Ghazni Mahmud ordered this impressive treasure to be displayed in the court-yard of his palace. “Ambassadors from foreign countries including the envoy from Taghan Khan, king of Turkistin, assembled to seethe wealth… which had never been accumulated by kings of Persia or of Rum” (Utbi, Reynolds, pp.342-43; E and D, II, p.35).

46 Utbi, E and D., II, p.45, Reynolds, pp.455-57. I have elsewhere calculated that 70 misqals were equal to one seer of 24 tolas in the Sultanate period. See my History of the Khaljis (2nd ed. Bombay, 1967), pp.199-200. On the basis of the above calculation the weight of five gold idols comes to 10.5 maunds, each idol being of about 2 maunds.

47 Bosworth, op. cit., P.78.

48 A. Cunningham, Coins of Medieval India (London, 1894), Reprint by Indological Book House (Varanasi, 1967), p. 65.

49 J.R.A.S. 1848, pp.289, 307, 311; J.R.A.S., 1860, p.156; Bosworth, pp.78-79.

50 A.S. Altekar in Journal of the Numismatic Society of India, II, p.2.

51 Muhammad Ufi, Jami-ul Hikayat, E and D, II, p.188; Thomas in J.R.A.S. XVII, p.181.

52 Bosworth, op. cit., pp.79, 149-52. Also Khurdadba, E and D, I, p.14, and Jami-ul-Hikayat, E and D, II, p. 68.

53 Utbi, op. cit., Reynolds, 362; E and D, II, 36.

54 Bosworth, op. cit., pp.76,120,126; Hodivala, op. cit., pp. 139-40,176; Alberuni, pp. I, p.61; Fakhr-i-Mudabbir, Adab-ul-Harb, trs. in Rizvi, Adi Turk Kalin Bharat (Aligarh 1965), p.258; Utbi, op. cit., p.33; Taj-ul-Maasir, E and D, II, p.227.

55 Utbi, E and D, II, pp.40-41.

56 Ibid., pp.49-50.

57 Alberuni, II, p.13.

58 M. Habib, Mahmud of Ghaznin, p.95.

59 C.H.I., III, p.28.

60 Alberuni, I, p.22.

61 E and D, II, 208.

62 Utbi, op. cit., p.32.

63 E and D, II, p.60.

64 Utbi, E and D, II, p. 41; Reynolds, p.450.

65 Juwaini, Tarikh-i-Jahan Kusha, E and D, II, p.389.

66 Hasan Nizami, Taj-ul-Maasir, E and D, II, pp.215-17.

67 Utbi, Reynolds, p.xxv.

68 Alberuni, II, p.13.

69 Bosworth, op. cit., p. 59; M. Habib, Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznin, p.95.

70  Badaoni, Muntakkab-ut-Tawarikh, Bib. Ind. Text (Calcutta, 1868-69), I, p.8; Farishtah, I, p.21.

71 Hazard, Atlas of Islamic History, p.42.

72 It was translated into English by Charles Hamilton of the East India Company and published in England in 1791. It is easily available in a recent reprint.

73 Minhaj, p.116; Indian Antiquary, 1877, pp.186-189.

74 Habibullah, The Foundation of Muslim Rule in India, p.57.

75 Minhaj, p.118; Farishtah, I, p.57.

76 Habibullah, op. cit., pp.60-61.

77 C.H.I., III, p.40; Farishtah, I, p.58.

78 Hindustan Standard, 14 March 1954, later reproduced in Jadunath Sarkar, Military History of India.

79 Minhaj, Tabqat-i-Nasiri, p.120.

80 Fakhr-i-Mudabbir, Tarikh-i-Fakhruddin Mubarakshak, p.23; Farishtah, p.58. Hasan Nizami’s account in Taj-ul-Maasir is detailed.

81 Singhal, D.P., India and the World Civilization, 2 vols. (Delhi,1972) I, p.234.

82 Ibid., p.246

83 Modern Cyclopaedia, IV, p.319.

84 Hinduism Today, Malaysia Edition, August 1990, p.17.

85 Cited in Singhal, op. cit., p. 241.

86 Rakesh Mathur in Hinduism Today, op. cit., August, 1990, p. I.

87 Modern Cyclopaedia, p.319.

88 Arnold, The Legacy of Islam, p. 17.

89 D.P. Singhal, op. cit., Chapter on “Romanies: Lords of the Open Country”, pp.234-266, esp. pp.249, 255, 266; Rakesh Mathur, “Hindu Origins of Romani Nomads” in Hinduism Today, op. cit., August and September, 1990.

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